SELECT has recently responded to a Scottish Government consultation in response to the UK Apprenticeship Levy. The consultation was seeking employers’ feedback on ways in which they could use their allocation of funds to the best benefit of the Scottish Economy.
The Scottish Government has committed to an expansion of the Modern Apprenticeship Programme to 30,000 a year by 2020. This represents an increase of about 20%. This is an ambitious target that highlights the importance of Apprenticeship training to the Scottish economy. In addition to the expansion of the Modern Apprenticeship programme the Scottish Government is also looking at expanding the Apprenticeship programme through the introduction of Graduate Level Apprenticeships and Foundation Apprenticeships.
Graduate Level Apprenticeships would provide work-based Apprenticeship training up to Master’s degree level. The introduction of Graduate Apprenticeships could offer an excellent route to develop the high level skills needed in the economy.
The Government is also looking at the introduction of Foundation Apprenticeships. Foundation Apprenticeships are designed to give young people an opportunity to gain work-based qualifications while in the senior stages of school. Foundation Apprenticeships are not suitable for every industry, including our own. However, the Building Services Engineering Sector, which we are part of, has invested time and expertise in developing a National Progression Award in Building Services Engineering. This qualification has been designed to introduce learners to techniques that are important in our sector. We are supportive of moves to provide school children with information and experience on different careers, but hope that the Scottish Government is flexible in the approach that they use.
From the consultation it is clear that the Government is also considering using the fund to support employers with work-place development and to look at ways the fund can reskill and support people who are unemployed access ‘suitable and fair’ work. Using funding to support these areas is worthwhile, as long as does not detract from apprenticeship funding. However, if additional support could be made available to Scottish businesses this can only be positive
The Scottish Government has stated that it does not plan to have a fundamental shift in the mechanisms for Apprenticeship delivery in Scotland. We know that our Members value the simplicity and consistency of the Apprenticeship system in Scotland. We believe that the current funding system that supports Apprentice training works well and helps encourage and support training in Scotland.